Sunday, January 22, 2017

Class of 2020

Yesterday, I was in a shopping center in Manalapan, Monmouth County, New Jersey. One thing I always look for is varsity jackets, to see if the locals have pride in their place. I usually see a few.

In one store, I saw a girl wearing a Manalapan High School varsity jacket. Nothing odd about that: It was in her town. Her sport was gymnastics. Nothing odd about that: It's a fairly familiar sport, which caters to girls more than to boys.

Her jacket showed her to be in the Class of 2020.

Making her a freshman.

It was the 1st time I'd seen a var jacket with a date in the 2020s.

No big deal? It is to me. I started at East Brunswick High School (3 towns away, in Middlesex County) in September 1984. I was seeing var jackets saying "85," "86" and "87." Seeing them in the 90s for the 1st time was no big deal. Seeing my 1st "00," for the Class of 2000, was.

Now, "20."

I did the math: If she is in the Class of 2020, that means she was probably born in 2002.

Which means that, while the replacing of the original Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium, the election of Barack Obama, the Crash of 2008, Hurricane Katrina, the Red Sox' post-1918 World Series wins *, the Aaron Boone Game, a Devils Stanley Cup and the start of the Iraq War all happened during her lifetime, 9/11 and Y2K did not.

As a recent Buzzfeed article pointed out, they were born the year these songs were released: "Lose Yourself" by Eminem, "Hot in Herre" by Nelly, "Complicated" by Avril Lavigne, and "A Thousand Miles" by Vanessa Carlton -- which I also heard today at that Manalapan shopping center, and had hardly heard at all since 2002. (Then again, I also heard "Blitzkrieg Bop" by the Ramones walking into Wegman's, which was a weird combination.)

They're not old enough to remember "Selena" meaning "Quintanilla-Perez" instead of "Gomez." Or "Demi" meaning "Moore" instead of "Lovato." And while they've seen Justin Timberlake, they're not old enough for their 1st thought on hearing "Justin" to be him, rather than "Bieber."


I did the math again. Presuming my sister doesn't move in the next 20 years (and after all she went through to get her house, I'm hoping there's no need), my nieces will graduate from South River High School (next-door to East Brunswick) in 2025 (Ashley and Rachel) and 2034 (Mackenzie).

There are things that would not seem possible to me if I had not seen them on film, like the assassinations of the 1960s, the decade's race riots, the Moon landings, Kent State, Watergate -- the latter 2 happening in my lifetime, but not in my memory. My 1st memory of any President is Richard Nixon's resignation speech.

Ashley and Rachel don't remember any President other than Obama, until now. In contrast, had I been born a year earlier, when Lyndon Johnson was still President, I would have had 5 different Presidents in my lifetime shortly after turning 12: LBJ, Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. In contrast, 4 of the last 5 -- Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama, but not George H.W. Bush -- went the full 8 years.

In 1989, Back to the Future II came out, including the novelization. For someone raised on "When I was your age... " stories about the pre-TV, pre-computer era, I laughed at the 2015 scene with Marty McFly Jr. watching 6 TV shows at once, and, in a scene that wasn't in the movie, the 2015 version of Marty Sr. saying, "When I was your age, if I wanted to watch 2 TV shows at once, I had to put 2 TV sets together!"

That got me thinking: When I have kids, what can I tell them? Well, I still don't have kids, but there are things I tell my 9-year-old nieces.

When I was your age, we didn't have kids sitting around getting fat playing video games. We actually had to go out and play. Act out the scenes of sports, and war, and cops & robbers, that you might now see in video games. And if we wanted to play video games, we had to leave the house, get on our bicycles, ride to the mall, and go into the arcade.

"Uncle Mike, what's an arcade?"

It was a store with video game consoles.

"Uncle Mike, what's a console?"

It was a machine with the video game inside, put on... how can I describe this... a TV screen. We used to call the old TV sets "consoles," too. We'd stick a quarter in, and play the game. Some games were so popular, there'd be a line. Some guys would set themselves up as the next guy to play by putting their quarter on the machine.

"Uncle Mike, what's a quarter?"

Yer killin' me here...

They don't get what "wind your watch" means. Or "hang up." I tell them MTV used to show music, and they look at me like I've got 2 heads.

I have to explain to them that the old guy selling "reverse mortgages" on TV used to be The Fonz, the coolest man in the world.

That John Madden didn't always sell video games, that he used to be the greatest football analyst in the world, and, before that, a great coach.

That there was an NFL team in Baltimore, but not the Ravens. And one in Houston, but not the Texans.

That LeBron James isn't as great as Michael Jordan, who wasn't as great as Wilt Chamberlain.

That O.J. Simpson was once beloved, and that Ozzy Osbourne used to scare the crap out of people.

And that, while Donald Trump was always an asshole with a massive ego, he used to be a comparatively harmless one.

And that the same people who believe he can "make America great again" were dumb enough to believe that Dubya could "restore honor and integrity to the White House." That some of them were old enough to be dumb enough to believe that Reagan could bring back "Morning in America." And that some of them were even old enough to be dumb enough to believe that Nixon had "a secret plan to end the war" (actually, he never used the words "secret plan") and would restore "law and order."

And that the people who believed in 2016 that Hillary Clinton compromised national security with her emails and engaged in "blood rituals" at a pizzeria were, in 1994, accusing her of murder and Bill of drug-running. And that their parents believed JFK's election would mean the Pope was going to take over America.

I also had to tell them who George Carlin is -- but could only give them quotes of his that cleaned up the language, something that would have horrified him. He would have told me to tell the kids the truth, that they know these words by now anyway. (Still doesn't make it right to use them in front of kids.)

As George once said...

Some people are really fuckin' stupid... And it doesn't take ya very long to spot one of them, does it? Take ya about eight seconds. You'll be listenin' to some guy, and say.... "This guy is fuckin' stupid!"

Then, there are some people, they're not stupid, they're full of shit! Huh? That doesn't take very long to spot, either! Does it? Take ya about the same amount of time! You'll be listenin' to some guy, and say, "Well, he's fairly intelligent... Ah! He's full of shit!"

Then, there are some people, they're not stupid, they're not full of shit, they're fuckin' nuts!

Dan Quayle is all three! All three: Stupid, full of shit, and fuckin' nuts!

Rachel says, "Donald Trump is mean!" She's 9, and in the 4th grade. Her vocabulary is the equal of Trump's. So is her maturity.

She knows: Donald Trump is all three: Stupid, full of shit, and fuckin' nuts!

That's something I don't have to explain to kids these days. They get it.

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